Quick Look Ats

֎According to a Bloomberg report last week, China used tiny microchips, placed on server motherboards, to infiltrate nearly 30 American companies including Amazon and Apple. But Amazon and Apple challenged the report and the Department of Homeland Security said it “had no reason to doubt” the companies’ statements. Bloomberg, whose article is based on 17 anonymous sources, is standing by the story. [Reuters]

**** This may or not have happened but it occurs to mariner that wars among the fifty largest nations may not use gunpowder or TNT in this century. Should the United States, which spends three times as much on military as any other nation, consider a serious revamp of the military to face an age of cyber warfare? More ominous, could there be war between the military and large international data corporations? Perhaps we should abandon social media to avoid being in that crossfire.

֎Burning down the house: Jeff Bezos is donating money to fund schools and homelessness initiatives. Mark Zuckerberg is giving 99 percent of his Facebook shares to charity. The wealthy get high praise for donating money to social causes, but how much can we expect these efforts to change systemic societal issues, especially when some of those very same business interests are taking steps that negate this philanthropy through lobbying and their own workplace policies?

In a new book, Winners Take All, Anand Giridharadas argues that this system of philanthropy reinforces the inequities that put billionaires on top. [Citylab]

**** This is an old complaint about philanthropists who are so wealthy that no matter how large a donation to good causes, it doesn’t affect the oligarchic life style to which they are accustomed. Meanwhile, any pressure on their business model is addressed instantly and is concerned only with the bottom line. The real bottom line, life and happiness for all, goes unaddressed. Such is the conflict between capitalism and socialism. Can the two be homogenized?

֎McKINSEY HIRES BRACEWELL ON BANKRUPTCY ISSUES: McKinsey & Company has hired Bracewell in response to a lobbying effort from Jay Alix, a businessman and founder of Alix Partners. Earlier this year, Alix hired Cornerstone Government Affairs, Cogent Strategies and Lakeview Capital Holdings to lobby on “protecting the integrity of the bankruptcy system.” It’s not clear what exactly Alix is doing, but McKinsey is fighting back. In July, Alix filed a motion to reopen a bankruptcy case involving Alpha Natural Resources, which McKinsey advised during its bankruptcy proceedings. Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that McKinsey is fighting that request, “denying allegations that conflicts of interest and an undisclosed investment broke the law and tainted the outcome of the multibillion-dollar chapter 11 case.”

**** Mariner inserted this story to show the depth of lobbying and backdoor shenanigans that goes on behind the headlines. Thanks to Donald, we know bankruptcy proceedings can be a tool not only for salvaging something from a failed venture, but a way to hide super large profits and bank manipulations. Apparently Alix wants to strengthen the bankruptcy laws to eliminate abusive, big dollar gamesmanship. It reminds mariner of Donald’s experience with casinos: he pulled all the profits from the casinos not even leaving enough to pay bills. Then he filed bankruptcy obviously to dissuade regulators that there was any profit at all. He played this game three times: the Taj Mahal, Trump Castle Associates, and Trump Entertainment Resorts.

Mariner has the entertaining thought that global warming, which Donald denies, will soon put Mar a Lago under water. Oh well, he’ll game the situation somehow.

Speaking of Global warming, Tangier Island, a small, isolated island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay is going under. Forty percent of the island already has disappeared. This is no small event in DelMarVa. Tangier Island is 12 miles from the nearest shores of the Bay. Consequently, this culturally pure location has retained much of the dialect of its original founders from England in the eighteenth century; it has retained the strict Victorian Christian beliefs from that era as well. Every family on the island is a fishing family by trade: rockfish, crabs, oysters, clams – all from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

More important to the Mid-Atlantic States is its place in the history of the Bay. It is a well-known location and is an endearment to the citizens of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. To watch the video shown by PBS Newshour, see:


Ancient Mariner


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